Recut since its première in Cannes, this is the first in a projected series of films which Hou intends to add up to a kaleidoscope of lives, loves and business arrangements in presentday Taipei. This episode centres on Vicky (Shu Qi, beyond sexy), a young woman from Keelung who came to Taipei, worked in a bar and soon found herself shacked up with HaoHao, a guy on the fringes of the rave scene whose fanatical jealousy drove her crazy. She wasn't crazy about all the dope he took either, and recalls how numb she felt the time he was arrested for stealing a Rolex from his own father. She would sometimes escape to the older Jack (Jack Kao), a smalltime gangster who treated her like a best friend, but kept going back to HaoHao as if he were a habit she couldn't break. She reached a personal epiphany of sorts on a visit to Japan, where she had her first contact with snow in Yubari.Vicky herself narrates the story, but from a point ten years in the future and in the third person, no longer the naive and directionless woman she was in 2001, but you can hear the nostalgia in her voice for the time when anything seemed possible. The double perspective on her life exactly mirrors Hou's own ambivalent feelings about these characters, half appalled, half bemused and fascinated. This is the cinema's freshest approach to the 'Es and whiz' generation yet. It's also brilliantly original filmmaking. (Tony Rayns)

International title
Chie shi man po
Hou Hsiao-hsien
Taiwan, France
Mandarin, Japanese
3H Productions Limited, Paradis Films, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Eric Heumann
Fortissimo Films
Liao Ching-sung